Tuesday November 10th 2015

Today Clearing this morning. Fog dissipating this morning. Wind becoming south 20 km/h this afternoon. High plus 4.
Tonight Clear. Increasing cloudiness after midnight. Wind south 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 6.
Wed, 11 Nov Cloudy with 60 percent chance of light snow or rain. Wind becoming north 20 km/h gusting to 40 late in the morning. High plus 5.
Night Clear. Low minus 9.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I'm feeling more ambitious today.  I slept well last night and, after a day of research and organizing yesterday, my thoughts are better organised.

Here in Central Alberta, about the same time we suffer disruption due to setting our clocks back to standard time, we face a sudden change in weather.  Quite suddenly, snow and ice appear on the ground and winds become bitter.  Mornings are increasingly dark and often foggy.

Going outdoors after Halloween means finding extra clothing.  Travel means considering road conditions, scraping windshields and taking emergency supplies.  Rather than worrying about overheating my dog if I have to leave her in the car for a while, I worry about chilling her.

Central heating, having been mostly dormant or non-essential for months, suddenly becomes front and centre.  Risks of heating failure change from being of little immediate concern to a foreground worry.

I'm always affected by this seasonal shift.  When I was younger, I was more affected by the change than I am these days, so I was surprised to find things were looking bleak for a few days and blame it on an allergy or some bug. As always, the fog dissipated after a day or two, exposing a new reality.

I'm always amazed when I contemplate how adaptable humans are, living in diverse environments ranging from steaming jungles to barren, rocky, bitterly cold arctic islands -- and even out into space.  I think I can handle this transition.

I don't mind winter.  I enjoy snow sports and the prairie scenery is beautiful under snow.  As ski patrollers, my son and I stood on a ski hill at minus forty and thought little of it.  In fact, we stayed overnight in our camper in the parking lot to save a long drive. Our family of four lived happily for five days at minus twenty in the same camper at Panorama one winter.  Accepting the coming of winter is just an adjustment, a shifting of gears and time to change clothes, tools, toys, and thinking.

Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated.  For me, accepting and embracing the seasonal change is the cure -- or at least an effective palliative.

Sorting through the deferred stack of paper turned up a few items that I had been looking for for some time, and pulling out my research from previous heating studies reminded me how thoroughly I have examined the issues. Looking at the spreadsheet shocked me with the suggestion that gas will be cheaper than coal.

Out of sight, out of mind. My mind is always full to overflowing. Ideas spill over the edges and run down the drain.  Or maybe as the saying goes, I have a mind like a sieve. (That is an interesting image.  The thin stuff runs through and the solids are retained.  I like that thought).

Readers have probably figured out that I spend far too much time writing and re-writing this diary.  That is part of the problem -- and part of the cure.

*    *    *    *    *

My Samsung has not frozen or crashed for the past several days.  I still have some jitters in  the wireless connection to the Samsung and am thinking I'll get a new router.  All my machines can use Wireless N and I am still using an old WRT54G b/g router flashed with dd-wrt firmware.  For whatever reason, my Samsung has trouble maintaining a connection.

*    *    *    *    *

I went outside and began to move the 4X4 and trailer.  I may have coal coming tomorrow.  

I did not want to order more coal, but figure I need to be sure I have heat until I get the gas in and working.  Cold weather is coming.  We could go to minus thirty C anytime now. 

The extremes in history are the dashed lowest line on the chart at left, and yes, if history is a guide, minus thirty can happen anytime after November 1st!

The bin is getting low and I don't know how soon I will have an alternate heat system.  When I do, will I feel like burning up the  rest of the coal?  Gas will be so easy.  No ashes to shovel. I guess I'll have to burn it up though, or somehow empty the bin.

The truck would not start although we are only down to freezing.  I have noticed that it has become harder to start lately.  I wonder if it is the fuel or maybe the filter.  I had to plug it in! 

While I waited for it to warm up, I hauled out four drums of ashes to get them out of the way.  Then, when it started, I had to fill tires on the trailer.  It has been months since I moved it.

I had plans to take a load of trash to the dump, then another and another, remember?  Then something happened.

Lately, I have just been uninspired.

After supper, I sat down and watched two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, wondering all the time why I do it.

I went to bed early, planning to increase the time I sleep. 

I seem to have automatic alarm clocks set in my mind that waken me at certain times.  Maybe it has to to do with trains going by?  Dunno.  At any rate I seem to wake up at specific times.  I don't think the trains are that regular.  Maybe they are. 

Sometimes I am aware a train is coming from the south for a long time.  The sounds are very subtle in the distance: a low indistinct and barely discernable rumble that breaks into a roar as they climb the long winding hill below Swalwell. Then two longs and a short. 

Of course each engineer has his/her own version of the mandatory crossing whistle.  Some are light and quick on the cord and some really blast out long tones.

Most of the time, I don't even hear them, consciously at least, but sometimes I am half-awake and can follow their course through the valley, over the bridge and around the curves, then climbing the grade hauling two miles of double-stacked freight containers.

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Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.
Wayne W. Dyer

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Wednesday November 11th 2015

Today Clearing this morning. Fog dissipating this morning. Wind becoming south 20 km/h this afternoon. High plus 4.
Tonight Clear. Increasing cloudiness after midnight. Wind south 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 6.
Wed, 11 Nov Cloudy with 60 percent chance of light snow or rain. Wind becoming north 20 km/h gusting to 40 late in the morning. High plus 5.
Night Clear. Low minus 9.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I slept ten hours last night.

I have decided that I need to sleep more, so I went to bed at 2100 and when I woke up at 0330 after 6-/1/2 hours of deep sleep, instead of getting up as I usually do, I rolled over and went back to sleep.  Getting to sleep took a while and I had to turn off my mind -- not an easy job since I have to use my mind to do it -- but I managed to sleep until around 0800. 

Yesterday, I had an afternoon nap, too.

Will more sleep make a difference?  We'll see.  I notice I weigh a pound less today.  Maybe that is why I lost seven pounds in hospital last August.  I slept a lot.

Calgary beekeepers are presently taking package and nuc orders for next year. I thought I should contribute a few thoughts.

Perhaps I should mention at this point that while many like to buy nucs or packages and assemble equipment and nurse the bees on foundation through early spring, there are other options and decisions do not have to be made right now.

The bee purchase decision can be put off until spring or even early summer for those who are undecided, or flexible and willing to wait.

The ultimate cost of all approaches is similar. The risks, worry, and work involved are not. If you buy now, you are committed. Who knows what the new year will bring?

Comparing the various options to a beeginner, packages are especially risky with a proven 10% average failure rate in the first weeks. Nucs are more certain to perform. Both require careful timing and special handling. Weather can be an issue in delivery and installation.

Established hives of bees are always becoming available, sometimes at bargain prices and sometimes at high prices, but usually for less than the cost of starting from scratch and always likely to out-perform.

Swarms can be caught in June and early July, draw foundation amazingly, and often make good crops. Free bees!

Established hives are the easiest way to get a working hive of bees. They can be bought anytime (even right now!) are easy to transport, require no installation, and only routine attention.

Although some over-emphasize risks in buying established hives, with due diligence, established hives are as close to a sure thing as there is.

For some, beekeeping is an activity to fill their spare time and use up spare cash. Other beekeepers and aspiring beekeepers want to minimize work and risk. Some hope to make money with bees.

Horses for courses. Each beekeeper needs to decide on priorities, time available, abilities, resources and temperament, then decide on that basis.

That said, I personally expect to have established hives available next spring (or right now), and there will be established hives on offer from others between now and then.

People retire, people move, people have personal issues and decide to quit. In the past year, I saw some real bargains appear here on this list and other newsletters, and I sold all the hives I wanted to to people who seemed to be very happy with the hives and the price.

Jes sayin'


I knew I would aggravate a few vocal people who are fixated on new boxes, new frames, new foundation and new bees, are terrified at the thought of any bee disease, and who actively lead or pressure newbees onto that track, but thought I really should bring some perspective to what was beginning to look like a promotion that would sweep unthinking people in.  Sometimes I feel like a skunk at a garden party.

It did not take long to get a response and it makes the effort seem worthwhile.  Sometimes I think I spend more time writing emails and communications about bee sales than I do on the bees and the sales.

> Thanks for that Allen! Honestly, I'd prefer to purchase bees locally so this knowledge gives me some time to continue to research my options.

I am usually annoyed by the volume of 'shares' on Facebook and I have turned off several people for not posting anything except shares, however, today I saw two that are worth consideration, so please forgive me if I share, and please forgive my confirmation bias.

"As part of an experiment by Canon, six photographers were brought in to take a portrait of the same man. What they didn’t know is that each photographer would be told a different backstory. How would the preconceived notions of their subject change the final product? The answer is surprising and displays a lot about the effect of preconceptions on the way we view others".

And people wonder why I am skeptical about the news and popular beliefs. "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see".  There is a good reason to doubt almost everything.

Oh, and here is why I worry about weather -- besides the fact that two people close to me, Aaron and my Mom, have had homes freeze up and gone through the nuisance of repair and remodeling.  Of course, freeze -up is not likely while a house is insulated by the depth of snow shown below (right) on Facebook.  People these days talk of freak extreme weather events as if they are something new.  They are not.

The coal did not come.  I was sluggish today and accomplished basically nothing except email, Facebook and other time-wasters. That and shop for boats.  My mind is mush the last day and half or two and I have no ambition. Maybe Vance is right and I am depressed more than I think, but I hope that I shake off whatever has got me.  I did go for a bike ride to see if that helped.  It did not, but I got to watch a storm coming.  We had a bit of thunder and now have a skiff of snow.

I decided I need a protein kick in the butt and had a big steak with boiled potatoes for supper.  I'm going to veg in front of the screen until bedtime and try for another sleep marathon tonight.

Tomorrow, I have the Usual Suspects coming for supper.  That should get me moving.

One thing I do not mention as often as I should to the Calgary group is that they get queens and bees from various sources.  I certainly would not ever suggest that all their sources are non-hygienic, but some of them seem to have AFB problems and I know that I do not ever see any breakdown, even though I should given the fact I have a commercial beekeeping history, over one hundred hives at times, and equipment from many different outfits all around Alberta in the mix.  I attribute the lack of disease to the Saskatraz stock I run.

Of course, lack of disease is no proof.  It would be very difficult if not impossible to prove, but the absence of disease is highly suggestive.

It is Remembrance day, or for us old guys, Armistice Day.  The fighting ended with an armistice, since World War One was never officially over.

I don 't wear a poppy, I don't attend services, and I don't support the war machine.  I do however remember, and I struggle to comprehend the many varied circumstances and motives of the parties involved throughout history and into the present.  I mourn for all humanity, and not just on one ritual day.

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I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at,
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.
Joan Didion

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Thursday November 12th 2015

Today Sunny. Increasing cloudiness late this afternoon. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High plus 5.
Tonight Cloudy. Becoming partly cloudy near midnight. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40. Low zero.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I slept about ten again hours last night, if we include the half-hour it took me to go back to sleep at around 0330.  I don't know what I am accomplishing with this extra downtime except taking four hours off my waking day, although I have been a zombie for the past few days, so maybe 'waking' is the wrong word.

Brian posted a link to an interesting article in the forum today and the first part of it is just about what I would write if I took the time.  The last half?  Well, I am acutely aware of the futility of life so well expressed by the writer of  Ecclesiastes and of the 'inhumanity' of mankind to mankind -- most of it perpetrated in the name of the highest principals, 'true' religion or law, and I tend to think that efforts to cheat fate are somewhat wasted.

Of course, if I were a young man, I would -- and did -- think differently, and I fear for the millions currently fleeing murder and mayhem as well as for my own family and descendants and the roles they may find themselves forced to play as victims or perpetrators in this grand tragedy.

We tend to be myopic and assume the norms of our immediate existence extend further into the past and further into the future than is probable.

Although we may see surveillance, intrusion and betrayal as current issues, they are as old as mankind -- and older.  They are part of the package.

Individual human existence has always been precarious. War is the normal state of humanity and peace is the exception. In spite of the current explosion of human populations and illusions of security we enjoy in some regions of the planet for periods of time, it is obvious to any student of history that chaos and death is always only a heartbeat away for any of us, and there is one death per person.

Some people cannot think about such things, just as some people cannot stand at the edge of a cliff, even if the footing is as firm and secure as on their back steps.

Understanding these things does not help much -- ignorance is bliss -- but it need not cripple a person.  Knowing the facts can make us appreciate what we have and to enjoy it while we can.

Should we act?  If so, how is the question.  Lacking any clear indication of exactly what and when to fear, efforts may only distract us from enjoying the present.

Perhaps we are being herded, like cattle down a chute, but is there an escape?  Who know where the chute leads?  Although accumulation of information can be used against us, it can also be used to our benefit.  We could be headed for an abattoir or we could be loaded onto a truck to greener pastures.

We all have to choose between realism, pessimism and optimism. Although realism is a nice place to visit, I hardly want to live there every day.  Optimism may be unrealistic in an overall sense, but it gets us up in the morning, and through each day.

The facts are friendly. Knowledge is power. Carpe diem.

Enough of that.  Today is beautiful and sunny.  I have things to do. Vacuuming (yes, again/still), cleaning, cooking and work in the basement. 

Maybe I'll even get outdoors again and move a few hives into place for winter.  I want them all to face south and at this time of year we can move them anywhere we want with no fear of drifting back.

As for timing, we used to wrap as late as December back in the years when we had brown winters.  Predictions are for an super el Niņo this year, so maybe we will have less snow or no snow that stays,  We'll see.

I cleaned and worked at various things and cooked supper, running to town to get a few additional things in late afternoon.

People arrived around six and I was running to get everything on to the table.  I cooked too much of everything.  It is hard to know for sure who is coming.  Some people say they will come, then don't.

It was a good evening.  After supper we sat around.  Bert and Maddie almost finished the jigsaw puzzle that has been on the table for about a  month now.

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None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free
J. W. Von Goethe

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Friday November 13th 2015
Lucky Friday the 13th!

Today Mainly cloudy. Clearing late this afternoon. Wind southwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 10.
Tonight Increasing cloudiness. Wind southwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light this evening. Low zero.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

So much for long sleeps.  I went to bed around 2300 and awoke at 0320, dozed until 0515 and got up. 

I don't mind dozing or lying awake.  It is a good time to think about things I don't think about during the day.  I should think about them more and maybe I should meditate.

Nonetheless, after an hour or so of being awake, it was time to move.  Besides the furnace was out of coal.  I did not shovel any last night and the bin is getting low.  My plan is to go back to bed as soon as I wake up. I'll have a coffee.  Counter-intuitively, coffee in the morning helps me sleep and dream.

I did go back at around 0700 and I slept soundly, but surfaced several times.  At one point a bright colorful dream picture lingered in my mind so clear and so long that I could read the writing on the red and white vehicle in the scene -- not that I remember much more than that.

The day is sunny and predicted to be warm.

Vance reminded me of my earlier mention of Heinlein.  I had a thought and checked Audible.  Sure enough, Heinlein's books are there, including the first one I read, Have Space Suit - Will Travel

I've been meaning to read Time Enough for Love again, but do I really want to spend 23+ hours listening?  I spent almost that long listening to The Help and Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone, so maybe.

I found that I have some credits at Audible, so I bought Time Enough for Love.  Now I have to listen. 

Listening to audio books while working at dull jobs keeps my mind from  over-revving.  I don't listen while working bees -- that involves my mind and does not get boring, but sometimes do when doing shop work or work with bee equipment.

I often listen to CBC Radio One, too. (There's an app for that), but am finding the programming repetitive and sometimes boring or irrelevant. I can use the app to listen to Sudbury CBC or the West Coast stations, too. Sometimes I listen to On the Island and it is almost like being there.

Here's something interesting...

I am getting back to the gas job and find that I have been in a fog.  I did some research into the permits, but forget where I put it.  I have too many irons in the fire.  I need to concentrate on this one job for a while.

Although it is plus fifteen out, we have winds blowing over 30 MPH this afternoon.  It is too gusty to be good kite flying weather, though.

I did work downstairs, vacuuming up dust, tidying, organising and cutting up smoker fuel.

What does cutting up smoke fuel have to do with the job at hand - gas installation?  Well, I have to be able to work down there and have clear paths to where things need doing.  The sacks were stacked up and scattered around the bandsaw near the hot water tank and I figured the easiest way to deal with them was to cut them up and put them into a drum so they can go outside.  Otherwise, I am just moving things around.  As for the vacuuming, the place is very dusty and if I am going to work there, I need to get the floor clean

I was doing fine until I looked around and saw a haze.  The plug had fallen off the bottom of the filter in the Shop Vac and all the dust was going through the machine and back into the room.  I fixed the problem finished the job,  had a shower and flushed my sinuses.  I hope I can sleep tonight without antihistamines.  Faint hope.

You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going,
 because you might not get there.
 Yogi Berra

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Saturday November 14th 2015

Today Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries or rain showers changing to 30 percent chance of rain showers this morning. High 9.
Tonight Cloudy. 30 percent chance of rain showers or flurries this evening. Low minus 1.

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I just don't get it.  I slept soundly for about seven hours with no congestion.  I really expected that working in the dusty basement would cause me a night of discomfort.  It did not.  Not only that, I am up at 0400 and feeling energetic.

It seems my energy runs in cycles and that makes it difficult to determine cause and effect.  Although some things are less than clear, I do know that drinking too much, pizza sauce, and mowing dry grass can make me sluggish or keep me up at night.

Yesterday, I got started again on cleaning up the shop in preparation for the gas installation.  We have to install a meter and pipes and they pass through the shop.  The hot water tank is also there, behind several projects, so I have to clear the decks.

Today, breakfast is at the Mill at 0830.  I don 't usually go since it is early and a twenty-minute drive, and the meal is pancakes and bacon, which are hardly in my ideal diet.  Nonetheless, it is a social occasion and it is also twenty minutes closer to town and I should go to a city to do a few things, so I may well go.

This computer has not frozen for a long time now, but I still have wifi connection issues and thing a new router will solve the problem.  Which router, though?  They vary in price for almost nothing ($19.99 delivered) to quite a lot ($300 delivered), and "you get what you pay for" does not necessarily apply.

I have been turning this computer off each night and booting each morning for the last week.  I don't know if that helps, but right now all is good.

*    *    *    *     *

I went back to bed and slept another half-hour, then drove to the Mill for breakfast. From there, I drove to Red Deer and picked up a D-Link AC1750 dual band b/g/n/ac router and an open box 32 GB Nexus 9 tablet. 

On setting up the router I initially thought my computers seemed much faster and imagined that maybe the wireless network interface had been a drag on the offending computer, but soon noticed that the jitter returned.

When  I connected my TV wirelessly to the 5 GHz connection, I found it was actually slower, but I was downloading a 700 MB update for the tablet at the same time so maybe that was hogging the data.  My Internet connection is limited to 5Mbps.

In short, nothing much has changed except I am 130 dollars poorer. 

It took a few hours for the tablet to update to Marshmallow. 

Why did I buy it when I have a Hipstreet tablet?  I find the Hipstreet slow and heavy in my hands.  The battery does not sem to last long, either. I also don't much like proprietary versions of Android now that I am accustomed to pure Android.  The Hipstreet Android version is close to pure, but does not get timely updates and upgrades the way a Nexus device does.  None of the non-Google devices do.  Whether third party versions upgrade at all depends on whether the manufacturer gets around to preparing and distributing an upgrade.

Now I have a tablet that is a larger version of my phone, running the same apps the same way.

Politics is not the art of the possible.
It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
John Galbraith

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Sunday November 15th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming south 20 km/h late this morning. High 11.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. Wind south 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Wind becoming northwest 20 gusting to 40 near midnight. Low minus 6.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I'm tired this morning and taking it easy.

It's nice out today, around freezing and with a light breeze.  I find this weather ideal for yard work since I don't get too hot, so I am sweeping off the coal bin and the deck over the basement addition.  I'm expecting coal this afternoon around four.

It seems a bit crazy to order coal since I will have to burn it up or otherwise get rid of it after natural gas heat takes over, and I risk having a pile of leftover coal, but I suspect that installing the gas and an appropriate heating system will take longer than expected, and I need a reliable source of heat in the meantime.  A load lasts about two months in winter, so that buys a lot of time.

Although installing the gas meter and the gas pipes is relatively simple, obtaining and installing the ideal heating and hot water equipment may be a little more difficult and take longer, maybe much longer, than it seems at first glance.  Running the exhaust vents can be quite technical and can be very time-consuming. 

Also, we won't be doing the entire job in one sweep, but merely getting the gas in and at least one appliance hooked up so we have a foothold, then will proceed from there.

My computer is behaving much better lately according to the Reliability Monitor (image), but I still need to find the cause of the mouse  slowdown and jitter.

I worked outside for a while and in the basement.  I had to vacuum again.  The dust is everywhere down there and it takes several passes to get down to where there is not much left.

I also had a good long nap mid-afternoon.

The coal came around 1630 and I now have a good supply to last the coming weeks.  Our weather has been beautiful, but I hear that Red Deer got four inches recently that has not melted.  That is bound to happen here someday soon, and the weather is likely to turn nasty at some point.  We usually get down to minus twenty for a while by the end of November.  I see a minus seventeen predicted for our first night away.

Our winters can be quite variable here in Central Alberta. We don't always see the extremes shown on the chart at right below. I remember winters when we were snowed in regularly and when drifts were taller than I am, and winters when we had no snow that stayed longer than a week or two, not counting drifts in shady spots. 

We have had winters when I never plugged in a vehicle and winters when we plugged in often.  We had barbecues on the bare lawn south of the house on New Years Day more than once and other years were snowmobiling across the same lawn covered with a foot or three of snow.

Canadian Climate Normals
Canadian Climate Normals 1981-2010 Station Data

I changed the grate on the furnace today.  The old grate was unreliable due to wear.  I hoped that changing the grate would stop the ring from hanging up, but it stalled again immediately after I started the furnace up again. It seems to be okay now.  I may have the change the ring, too, though.

I have listened to five and half hours of Time Enough for Love.  It is every bit as good as I recall, and every bit as bad.  At this rate,  I can see that I may well finish it.  I don't finish all the talking books I buy, and sometimes have several open at once.

I was in the mood from steak again and grilled in the dark on the barbeque outside.  It was good, but steak is overrated sometimes.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
Mother Theresa

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Monday November 16th 2015

Today Cloudy. A few flurries early this morning. Clearing this morning. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light this afternoon. High plus 3.
Tonight Increasing cloudiness. 30 percent chance of flurries after midnight. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 late this evening. Low minus 3.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

The days are getting cooler. I have been busy all day, working on things.  One main project is making sure my furnace works reliably so we have heat while the gas installation is underway and also for when I am away. 

As it turns out, the new grate is worse than the old one for stalling.  I guess the geometry has changed enough to make a problem.  The new coal looks excellent, however, and now I only need to make sure that it gets to the main auger without requiring a lot of shoveling. 

When things are set up right, the only job is shoveling ashes once a week. , so I am resurrecting my bin buddy.  Rejigging it is a bit of work, but I actually enjoy it.  I have all these tools, so I may as well use them.

The job went reasonably well, but I no sooner had everything in  place when  I noticed the cross shaft was migrating out of the reducer and had to take it out again to re-bed the bearings. I managed that and by then  it was bout 2000. I figured I should not overdo things, and quit for the day.

I watched Grey's Anatomy for a while. 

Grey's Anatomy (Why the stupid title, I cannot figure except it sounds cool) is about the only show I am finding interesting lately largely because, unlike much of drama these days, nobody seems malicious and the characters and situations are interesting. 

As with all soaps, the characters are shuffled and interrelate in various unlikely permutations and combinations and put in circumstances that would be improbable in real life, but it is mostly plausible -- and we do know this is fiction, right?

I am now into a new season (four)  and some of the characters I found most interesting have left, and some I could do without remain (Mark, Izzy, George). I could see the change of cast coming at the end of season three, though, since the state of contract negotiations was apparent in the scripts.

I really can't imagine writing the scripts for such a complex weekly drama.  It must be quite a job.  This seems like a low point.

Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves.
Peter McArthur

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Tuesday November 17th 2015

Today Increasing cloudiness. 60 percent chance of showers late this afternoon. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 8.
Tonight Cloudy with 60 percent chance of rain showers this evening then 60 percent chance of flurries late this evening and after midnight then partly cloudy. Wind northwest 40 km/h gusting to 70 diminishing to 20 gusting to 40 overnight. Low minus 7.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I rolled over and glanced at the clock, read '4:00', then rolled over and dozed a while wondering why I seem to wake up at specific even numbers on the clock far more often than mere chance would predict.  I happen to know the clock is wrong, too, fast by seven minutes, so it is no absolute sense of time on my part.

Am I glancing more often than I realise, then only fully awakening when a specific number comes up?  Does my mind somehow count off minutes from the last glance and only awaken me at these times?  It is a mystery.  I have positioned the clock so that I have to lift my head a bit to see it, so it does not bother me and that would tend to suggest that I am not watching it in my sleep.

I got up around 0445 and had breakfast and coffee, then felt sleepy, lay down and slept another hour.  Sleep is good.  I tend to sleep only six hours and would like to get that up to seven or eight.

I'm planning to finish the bin buddy today and figure out what to do about the ring, then continue preparing to install gas.

The coal job is a distraction, I know, but reliable heat is important when the temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for a week or more as they are predicted to do soon -- right when I go away, wouldn't you know.

 

It is possible to have the gas in and something hooked up in  a matter of days, but I am aware that to do it right and to provide the backup I need there are too many steps for it to happen reliably.  Some of the parts may be special order. Ensuring the existing system, one that has served for forty years, is working well will provide peace of mind in the interim.

I really should have done this job in better weather, but my energy and state of mind simply were not to up to it.  My little event in August set me back more than I might have thought.  At this point, I don 't want to put myself under the gun.

Yesterday I made a fantastic soup, but ate it all up, so this morning I set out to duplicate it.  I came close, but it just is not quite the same.

After that, I started looking online for public warehousing. 

Sometimes beekeepers make good dealers, especially in the US, but it is not a sure thing.  In one province in particular, Global's dealers are falling down on the job.  They get a discount to compensate them for the trouble of providing service to other beekeepers, but they take the discount without providing good service to other customers, so we are looking for better facilities.

Public warehouses everywhere are in the business of handling goods and providing customer service for a small flat fee. Their business depends on serving the public, so it is worth a try.

I'll get back to the furnace shortly.  I like shop work, but it is really hard on my hands.

When I was younger, no problem, but my older skin cannot handle the industrial hand cleaners anymore and I can only use normal hand soap, then apply a hand lotion.  Even then, my hands get dry and crack if I am not careful, and get too sore to do such work for more than a day at a time.  I have tried dish soap, but in the concentrated form, it is just as bad as hand cleaner for skin damage.

One of the boat cushions is done now and here is a picture.  I notice the job looks a bit uneven.  The foam inside is pieced together and the covers are difficult to put on.  I'm hoping that they straighten out with use.  The lighting is not too flattering, either.

*    *   *   *   *

I reassembled the bin buddy and put it into the bin again.  When I started it up, the bearing stayed put and the auger worked as expected.  I left it running to build up coal on  the main auger. (left)

After I was done that, I worked on the grate and ring.  The ring was stalling occasionally and would then stay stationary.  The clinkers were then not being brushed off and built up and choked the flames. 

After watching for a while, I could see that occasionally when the ring shifted the drive wheel dogs did not quite touch the ring dogs, probably due to wear and the fact the new grate is a bit higher.

The drive dogs needed a bit of building up so I got out the welder and put a bit of metal onto the tips and put the ring back on. The welding eliminated the stalling problem, but after one turn or so, the ring jumped right off the grate and down into the ash pit.  That was a surprise.

I cooled everything down, put it back on, rotated it, and found it was binding, so I took a closer look at the clearances.  The ring turned out to be excessively loose on the grate.  Either the internal spacers had worn or the ring had expanded, or both, allowing the ring to rock enough while rotating, to bind, lift up, then pop off, so I built up the four spacers to restore the correct clearance and reassembled the grate.

It then turned freely with no excess looseness  or tightness and when I relit the fire, everything looked great. 

We'll see.  If it runs flawlessly for a few days, I'll be more confident.

My only worry now is the transmission gear cluster.  Only one gear set remains of the three and the worm gear is worn.  I have replacement parts, so I should probably take the gears apart one morning when I have a whole day to put the drive back together since I might find I have to make parts or go to town.

As you can see this thing is my baby.  I've built and rebuilt it at various time over the years and it is hard to give it up.

This evening, I notice that I have reached the 8:40 point in Time Enough for Love and am beginning to wonder whatever I saw in it.  It rambles and pontificates and generally babbles on. Nonetheless, it is mostly enjoyable.

If I don't listen to it, then  it is back to ancient history or medicine books for me, and I think I need some fiction.

Speaking of fiction, I am still watching Grey's Anatomy every night, mostly because I can't find anything that suits me more. They seem to have recovered somewhat from the end of last season, but have a ways to go to replace the people they lost IMO.

I am also realizing that along with several other characters, I don't much care for Meredith herself.  She is quite pathetic, really.  We keep hoping she will become less so, but she doesn't.  But this is fiction, right?

There's two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works!
Will Rogers

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Wednesday November 18th 2015

Today Cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries early this morning. Clearing near noon. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High minus 1.
Tonight Clear. Wind northwest 20 km/h. Low minus 15.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

The dog woke up at 0510, prancing around the room.  I got up, let her out, turned up the heat, waited for her to be ready to come in, and went back to bed.

After an abnormally warm beginning to November, we are into colder weather.

I am tired today and not too ambitious.  I thought of going to town, working downstairs, and various other things, but wound up researching gasoline problems and some other deskwork. 

My charter company has been having trouble and I got billed for carb problems and my outboard is almost new!  The gasoline sold these days id the problem, assuming someone did not dip the engine into the drink at some point.

Ethanol in gasoline is a problem for any small engine, and for older cars or for cars that sit for months or years with today's gas in the tank.

Colin J: > I can say that the outboards have been gumming up like crazy - something with the fuel available these days... we've been trying different additives on the little martins and that seems to be improving...

Here are some thoughts on the outboard problem, my research results, plus experience with my snowblower and tractor.
The clear take-home message is this.

* Phase separation in ethanol enhanced gasoline prevents starting and running and also damages engines of all sorts.

* There is no known additive that will prevent phase separation if gas contains ethanol and is stored in a damp environment. Period.

* The ONLY 100% solution is to never buy gas containing ethanol for marine use and make sure nobody does.

Bottom line: Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium gasoline in Canada does not contain ethanol. (From http://www.shell.ca/en/products-services/shell-for-drivers/fuels/shell-vpower/faq.html )

The problem is the ethanol in road gasoline. In cars and trucks where it is used fairly promptly, no problem, but around boats and where fuel may sit unused for months, big problems occur. 

The marine gasoline sold in marinas is supposed to be ethanol-free AFAIK, as are the higher octane products from some companies but we must ask to be sure, and the pump jockeys do not necessarily know.

I would recommend that all outboard tanks get a label or tag advising clients NOT to refill outboard gas tanks, or if absolutely necessary to only fill with premium gas or gas from marina gas pumps.  Marine gas is supposed to be ethanol free

Gas consumption is usually very minor in dinghies. Dock staff should obtain V-Power and add marine Sta-Bil as a precaution as well at time of purchase. That should put an end to the problems.

Normally, I avoid additives, since buying good fuel and storing it properly is preferable to adding unknown substances to carefully engineered products, so the following is an exception.

 I'm not sure V-Power needs stabilizing, but it I doubt it will hurt in a marine environment, where fuel may sit in tanks for months or even years and then tanks may only be topped up.

When faced with bad gas on the farm, personally, I have found that adding both Wynn's Gas Treatment and Sta-Bil to some pretty bad-looking gas allowed me to burn it up without issues. (This is NOT RECOMMENDED except in special circumstances).  It is better to discard the bad-looking gas.

Octane in the remaining gasoline portion drops when the water separates and is removed -- another reason to buy only premium besides the likelihood that premium gas does not have ethanol. (Caution: ethanol content in each brand, other than Shell V-Power, must be verified and it never hurts to double-check since things can change without notice).

Marine Sta-Bil gets higher reviews than the red Sta-Bil, (which also gets good ratings). Price difference is minor and the only difference may be concentration. http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/search-results.html?searchByTerm=true&q=STA-BIL++Fuel+Stabilizer

There are two sizes of the red product. Some reports say the only difference between marine and red is concentration, so perhaps the larger red bottle would be a better buy. Regardless, the additive price is a minor issue in comparison to the problems ethanol gas cause.

Nonetheless, gas of unknown origin should not be kept over winter or for more than a few months in summer, and if there is doubt, it should be burned in a car, ensuring any water in the bottom is not included when transferring.

When all is said and done, I did not accomplish a lot today.  This was one of those days when  I feel less than energetic.  I did. however continue the search for a freight terminal to help Global distribute products in Ontario.  That takes a lot of time with little to show for it.  The job is like fishing.  A lot of trying with only unpredictable success.

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, Where have I gone wrong?
Then a voice says to me, This is going to take more than one night.
 Charlie Brown

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Thursday November 19th 2015

Today Increasing cloudiness this morning. 30 percent chance of flurries late this morning. High plus 1.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries this evening and after midnight. Wind becoming north 30 km/h gusting to 50 overnight. Low minus 13

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

At 0201, I woke up and realised that I am a bit frightened to leave my house on its own with only friends watching out for problems when the temperatures average below freezing.  This anxiety happens every year about this time and I am used to it.  It passes and besides, life is about making brave choices after considering the risks and options rationally.

Worrying once in a while is good.  Worrying shows one is alive and conscious of the hazards and unknowns that surround us, but frankly, beyond being glad I can worry, I don't have a lot of patience for such things.

The list of things to worry about is endless. If I really wanted to worry irrationally the way the public and the mainstream media does, it seems, I'd worry that my daughter changed our flights at Thanksgiving to LAX direct flights from my original plan to fly through SNA since she does not want to have to change planes with a four-year old. (The tail wags the dog).  Not that I worry about such things, but seeing as I was apparently worrying about remote but plausible scenarios, LAX has long been at the top of the list of targets for bad guys and in view of Paris events lately and the big US holiday...

As I say, I woke up worrying -- mildly --about all the various things that could go wrong, so, after spending an appropriate minute or three acknowledging these anxieties, I got up for a while and wrote another email about ethanol fuel, then went back to bed and slept soundly.

Just like yesterday, though, the dog woke me prancing around wanting out at around 0600.  I stumbled to the door, let her out, waited, let her in, then went back to bed.  I hope this is not going to be a new pattern.  She likes a schedule and my sleeping in does not appear to fit her notions of how a day should go. I awoke again at 0810 with dawn showing through the curtains.

No supper here today.  I moved supper to tomorrow when  everyone can come.  Yesterday I was in a low cycle and I really did not feel like doing it today anyhow.  I'm more inspired today and tomorrow suits me better.

Just the same, I need to go to town soon. I am out of some foods and dog food is getting very low in particular.

*   *   *   *   *

I realise that I am procrastinating on the matter of installing the gas and playing with my coal system rather than concentrating on the gas installation.

When I ask myself why, I realise that I have been down this trail a number of times and stalled for various reasons ranging from difficulties getting agreement with my wife to incompetent or unreliable gas fitters and then my wife's illness and the interruptions that caused. My last pass at this was 2012/13.

I have been offered plenty of quick solutions, but on careful examination there have always been flaws in the plan or obstacles that might become roadblocks.  At this time of year, a reliable heating system is paramount.  I have let this run too late to not need my existing system to be reliable.  I now have a load of coal in the bin, too, so I have about six weeks to two months of reprieve.

I know from experience that beginning on a journey without knowing the destination can be very interesting, but also quite costly with the possibility of finding oneself somewhere where it suddenly becomes apparent that "You cannot get there from here". In other words, a place where you have to go back and start over.

*   *   *   *   *

Further to a recent forum discussion, here is some interesting reading.   Hard times are ahead for many due to the rise in the US dollar.  While a strong US dollar benefits some, including US consumers, last time around it really clobbered US producers, and especially beekeepers. While they were finally able to fight off Chinese honey, this time around, US beekeepers will be facing many more countries as their currencies fall vs. the dollar, and the low prices will not be due to dumping, but simply due to lower costs to producers in those countries  -- thanks to dollar strength.

Every coin has two sides. Be careful what you wish for.

From U.S. Honey Crops and Markets: The mighty U.S. honey market is feeling its first uncertainty in several years with news of large amounts of cheaper foreign honey being offered to U.S. honey importers. The news has brought down new honey crop offering prices by 20 to 40 cents per pound, according to a number of our reporters. On the other hand, small-lot wholesale prices have remained strong, as have retail honey prices. 

That is in US dollars. Canadian producers won't see much difference in local currency.

And here is something completely different (right):

*   *   *   *   *

BTW, I am getting to the point where I am working on  my new five-year plan.  I notice my mood has shifted.

I think, at this point, I should plan to be out of here in five years.  Between now and then, I need to figure out how to sell the place and where to move.

My plan for today is to clean up more in the North End and then to go to Airdrie to shop around five.

I went to Airdrie as planned and was home by 2130.  I looked over the grocery bill and notice a couple of charges that made me wonder. $7.49 for a bag of chips that were marked at half that on the shelf and an item I cannot recognize for $7. 

The SuperStore has some good deals, but also has tricky pricing.  Tags on shelves that require a person to get on one's knees the read the fine print. Sometimes the price shown is a two-four and taking only one costs the same as taking two!  I generally avoid stores with so-called loyalty programmes and tricky pricing.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it. George Moore

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